What does “brain fog” mean to you? For some, it’s a hazy feeling that clouds clear thinking. For others, it shows up as spotty memory or slow recall. Brain fog might mean inability to focus and a short attention span. For others, it feels like losing one’s “mental edge.” Even emotional symptoms are part of brain fog. No matter how it manifests, brain fog is a common concern among fibromyalgia (FM) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients, who often share “foggy” cognitive problems.
The good news? Advanced modern forms of traditional brain herbs seem poised to bring mental sharpness and cognitive clarity to the FM and CFS populations who may need cognitive support more than most.
“Brain Fog”: One of the worst CFS symptoms
A CFS diagnosis is typically defined by 6+ months of ongoing fatigue. While others may perceive “fatigue” as purely physical, CFS patients know another form: Mental fatigue. By some estimates, up to 85% of CFS patients describe some form of cognitive difficulties, and researchers have suggested that these “brain fog” challenges may, in fact, be one of the most debilitating CFS symptoms.1
Scientists do not know why CFS is tied to mental fatigue, but have suggested a few potential causes. Poor blood flow to the brain has been suggested, as has a phenomenon known as Orthostatic Intolerance, in which standing or sitting upright produces symptoms that are relieved by reclining. Stress is believed to activate brain fog in CFS patients, and even the perception of fatigue has been shown to exacerbate brain fog symptoms-adding to daily FM and CFS challenges.1
“Fibrofog”: Adds 20 years to your brain age
Fibrofog appears to be nearly as prevalent in FM patients as “brain fog” is in CFS patients. Research suggests that up to 76% of those with FM may have some form of cognitive complaints.2 The shared cognitive symptoms are so well-known among FM patients, they acquired a nickname that’s now used by doctors and researchers, too: “Fibrofog.”
Fibrofog has been characterized as cloudy mental function, memory problems and short attention span. Researchers have noted that when fibromyalgia patients divide their attention among several tasks or are confronted with distractions, their fibrofog symptoms seem to worsen.3
Fibromyalgia is widely known for its physical discomfort and low energy, but actual patients say fibrofog is a major contributor to FM’s far-reaching deleterious impact on daily living and Quality of Life.4
Just how bad is fibrofog? Some researchers have suggested that fibrofog symptoms may combine in a way that mimics the effects of aging-making the brain function like it’s 20 years older.5
Botanical Therapies for Foggy Thinking
As if they weren’t mysterious enough already, both FM and CFS have an elusive subset of cognitive symptoms that are poorly understood by science. Facing these challenges, some patients have turned to time-tested herbal therapies to help brain function. Two botanicals in particular, enhanced with breakthrough technologies, may hold special promise for FM and CFS patients with brain fog and fibrofog: Longvida® made from turmeric, and Bacognize® made from Bacopa monnieri.
Next-Generation Turmeric for Brain Health
The traditional Ayurvedic spice turmeric has long been associated with cognitive health. Widely consumed in curry dishes, it may be one of the reasons behind Indian citizens’ brain health: They have a relatively low rate of cognitive decline compared to the rest of the world.6
Turmeric’s “active ingredient” secret is curcumin: A natural antioxidant complex with potent inflammation-soothing and brain-supportive bio-activities. Unfortunately, turmeric is hard to absorb, and may not deliver enough active curcumin to effectively nourish cognitive health.
Indian citizens probably consume enough turmeric in their diets to compensate for curcumin absorption challenges. The rest of the world, however, would likely benefit from an absorbable, high-potency curcumin that delivered more activity in a smaller serving. This is what Longvida® was made to be.
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Longvida®: Curcumin that’s 65X more bioavailable
In the 1990s, a group of UCLA neuroscientists began developing a form of curcumin that could overcome absorption challenges and instead be highly bioavailable: Capable of being digested, absorbed, and ultimately, reaching the bloodstream to deliver benefits.
After ten years of study, the UCLA neuroscientists found their answer in an absorption-promoting process that they later patented and named SLCP™ Technology.
SLCP™ advances curcumin supplementation by:
- Protecting curcumin from stomach acids
- Promoting absorption at the ideal point in GI tract
- Ushering curcumin into the bloodstream
- Assuring curcumin reaches target tissues and organs
- Crossing blood-brain barrier to directly nourish the brain
- Achieving 65X greater bioavailability than plain curcumin
Made by neuroscientists, it’s no surprise Longvida® has been suggested to help brain health in many ways. What may be most exciting, however, is the evidence behind this novel extract. Longvida® has been clinically tested, with early research returning some promising results:
- In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, researchers administered 400 mg Longvida® or placebo to 60 adults between the ages of 60 and 85, and then tested their short-term and long-term cognitive performance. Researchers found that after just one hour of administration, Longvida® brought significant improvements in sustained attention and working memory when compared with placebo. After four weeks, researchers noted Longvida® to be associated with significant improvements to memory and mood.7
Note: In this study, “Mood” was defined by researchers as “general fatigue and change in state calmness, contentedness and fatigue induced by psychological stress.” These parameters seem to apply to the fatigue and stress-induced fatigue sometimes experienced by FM and CFS populations.
Bacognize® Standardized Bacopa for Brain Health
Bacopa monnieri is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries to help various aspects of brain health. Also called water hyssop or Brahmi, this herb may have multiple cognitive benefits; some researchers have referred to it as a “memory vitalizer.”
Bacopa’s active ingredients are called bacosides. In addition to supplying antioxidant activity that may help protect brain cells, bacosides are believed to enhance acetylcholine, serotonin and GABA: Brain neurotransmitters associated with sharp memory, mental clarity and bright mood.8
Bacosides have also been found in some animal research to boost cerebral blood flow, which may offer special benefits to CFS sufferers whose foggy thinking has been partly attributed to poor blood flow to the brain.9 Some early human research showed positive results, too:
- In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, subjects were given either 300 mg Bacopa monniera or placebo daily for a span of 12 weeks. Subjects were tested for their cognitive performance before supplementation, at the five-week mark, and at the study’s conclusion at week 12. Researchers reported the Bacopa group seemed to have significant improvements in speed of information processing, learning rate, memory and mood (calmness).10
Bacognize® is a standardized extract of Bacopa monnieri that supplies a minimum 45% of the bacoside compounds most associated with its brain health benefits. The extract is designed to mirror the spectrum of bacosides naturally found in Bacopa, staying true to the nutritional “fingerprint” that has made this herb an Ayurvedic brain health legend.
ProHealth Optimized Curcumin Brain & Focus® Supplies Longvida® + Bacognize® in One Supplement
With familiar roots in Ayurvedic traditions, turmeric and Bacopa monnieri may have complementary biological activities that work together to support mental sharpness. ProHealth Optimized Curcumin Brain & Focus presents these two herbs in a single supplement using premium, potent forms: Longvida® 400 mg and Bacognize® 600 mg.
For FM and CFS patients with frustrating brain fog and fibrofog symptoms, 2-in-1 ProHealth Optimized Curcumin Brain & Focus may be an ideal way to try out two legendary brain health botanicals. With uniquely paired nutritional activity, these herbs may combine to finally “clear the fog” and restore memory, mood and mental sharpness.
1. Ocon, AJ. Caught in the thickness of brain fog: exploring the cognitive symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Front Physiol. 2013; 4: 63.
2. Leavitt F, Katz RS, Mills M, Heard AR. Cognitive and dissociative manifestations in fibromyalgia. J Clin Rheumatol. 2002;8:77–84.
3. Schmidt-Wilcke T, et al. Cognitive impairment in patients suffering from fibromyalgia. An underestimated problem. Schmerz. 2010 Feb;24(1):46-53.
4. Kravitz HM, Katz RS. Fibrofog and fibromyalgia: a narrative review and implications for clinical practice. Rheumatol Int. 2015 Jul;35(7):1115-25.
5. Glass JM. Fibromyalgia and cognition. J Clin Psychiatry. 2008;69(Suppl 2):20–24.
7. Cox KHM, Pipingas A, Scholey AB. Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population. J Psychopharmacol October 2, 2014.
9. Kamkaew N. Scholfield N. Ingkaninan K. Taepavarapruk N. Chootip K. Bacopa monnieri increases cerebral blood flow in rat independent of blood pressure. Phytother Res. 2013;27:135–138.
10. Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, et al. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera ( B. monnieri ) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology . 2001;156:481-484.